INEMESIT ETOKUDO, 23 YEARS OLD, FASHION AND LIFESTYLE BLOGGER
ON HER FIRST EXPERIENCES WITH MAKEUP
“My earliest memory of makeup revolves around a Walmart brand eyeshadow. I was starting my first ‘real’ job as a file clerk for a firm that translated government documents from French to English. I really wanted to look like an adult, because in my mind, I was 13 going on 45 complete with a mortgage and pension plan. The only way my 13-year-old self could think of looking older was by slapping on a full face of makeup. Everything was great up until I jumped in the car with my mom. After one quick glance my way, she immediately asked me what I had put on my face. Let’s just say, mixing purple shimmer eyeshadow with a green base was not the greatest way to jump into the world of makeup – but it did introduce me to its wonders. Even though I am still clueless when it comes to eyeshadow application, nor do I have the first idea about how to contour, I still love experimenting with new beauty and makeup products.
ON PLUS SIZED REPRESENTATION IN THE FASHION COMMUNITY
My true intent when I began this blog was to be an outspoken advocate for better plus size representation across the board as well as a warrior in the body positive and anti-bullying fight. Growing up, there was no real plus size representation in mainstream media or in the fashion world. This led to some pretty dark times for me during middle and high school as people my shape and size were not represented in popular ads, movies or television. I would starve myself, participate in ridiculous and often health threatening fitness plans to try and look like everyone else and to avoid the constant bullying I faced on a daily basis. As I reflect, it is that same behavior that I am working hard to eliminate in younger generations. I want to use my platform to influence the next generation of fashionistas, politicians and movie stars. I want to instill in them the understanding that our uniqueness is what makes each of us beautiful. I truly believe that the best way to ensure a future in which body positivity is more readily accepted is by influencing our youth and having these important discussions with them before the negative messages present in mainstream media affects them.
ON BEAUTY STANDARDS
Current beauty standards, although having come a long way, are still extremely unrealistic and continue to create impossible ideals that even models struggle to attain. Complacency has unfortunately also settled in the plus-size modeling world. Most of the high-ranking and influential plus sized models fit into only one type of plus sized body. This sends the same backward message to young individuals; leading them to believe that only one type of body can be successful or deemed beautiful. In my opinion, this is a huge failure for the plus size community and is an area that must be addressed. I look to models like Tess Holliday, who have bodies that are different from the mainstream but are so relatable to most people, as inspiration.
ON THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Through blogging, I have learned the power of social media. I think it is amazing that one post on Instagram can be seen around the world and have the ability to influence thoughts and discussions in communities so different than my own. It is incredible how something as simple as an off-shoulder top can open up the floodgates for an in-depth discussion about embracing your stretch marks. If I had to choose one thing I love most about being a blogger it would have to be my newfound ability to interact with a vast group of diverse people. Being able to express myself, as well as my thoughts and beliefs through fashion is nothing short of a blessing.
TOP 5 BEAUTY PRODUCTS
When you have oily skin like mine, makeup often has a hard time staying on your face. I came across Urban Decay’s All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray at the beginning of this year thanks to one of my favourite Youtubers, Raye Boyce. I must say, it totally lives up to its name! This is marketed as a spray to help your makeup last all night, but I highly recommend using it during the day as the formula is far stronger than others in the Urban Decay setting spray family. Ever since I started using it in January 2016, I have yet to go a day without it. I’ll apply this spray after I finish applying all of my liquid based makeup. I spray my entire face in an ‘X’ formation, with the bottle held about 8 inches from my face. I then follow up with my powder-based products and spray a second time to lock everything in. Throughout the day, if I feel myself becoming oily or if I have to reapply a layer of lipstick, I’ll give my face a quick third spray to set things again. I love the peace of mind this product provides me. I no longer have to check my makeup countless times a day because I know this spray has my back. When I use this product, my makeup looks as flawless as it did at 7am at the end of a busy workday. Along with its durability, the spray adds some warmth to my face, helping to curb the unfortunate ashy-ness that can come with the use of beauty products on melanin heavy skin like mine. Retailing for $18 CAD for a 1 oz. travel size and $39 CAD for the full size 4 oz. spray, I find the price tag is very worth the price. This falls well within the price range for other setting sprays by Smashbox and Boscia; however, my experience is that the quality of Urban Decay’s product is far superior.
The Green Tea Mattifying and Anti-Blemish Facemask by Sephora helps with my skin issues – mostly oiliness and acne. I find this mask mattifies and purifies my skin, minimizes the shine associated with oiliness, and reduces the appearance of blemishes. This mask is scent-free and paraben-free so it is perfect for sensitive skin types. The mask itself is extremely easy and quite comfortable to use. Because of its liquid base, there is no setting time, which means it peels off without any pulling of the skin or facial hair. It is extremely easy to use compared to other full-face masks on the market. Prior to application, I wash and dry my face thoroughly. To use, I unfold the mask and peel off the pink film, exposing the product heavy side of the mask. I apply it to clean skin and leave it on for 15 minutes, after which it can be removed, pain-free. The best part about this mask is that you don’t have to rinse it off. Any excess serum can be massaged into the skin to provide you with moisture for the day. I use this mask about once a month or whenever I feel my skin starting to misbehave. In the summer, I tend to only need it once every two months or so as the air here in Calgary is more moist, which allows my skin to breath naturally on its own. During winter months, the harsh winds and dry air wreak havoc on my skin, so I’ll use this mask almost weekly. The green tea mask retails for only $6 CAD at all Sephora locations. This is nothing compared to the $35-$50 CAD I have spent on other facemasks that did not measure up. This is truly one of my most prized finds and it works as a great stocking stuffer during the holiday season!
As someone with oily skin, it is easy to think that staying away from oil based beauty products is the best way to minimize this issue; however, the opposite is actually true. I find using oil-based moisturizers like Farsali’s Rose Gold Elixir Radiating Moisturizer helps balance out my skin and eliminates shine. Using this under my makeup makes my skin radiant without looking oily and simultaneously leaves it soft and moisturized. There are mixed opinions on how to use this Elixir. Some individuals use it as a daily facial moisturizer, but I like to use it as a powder blending serum. I’ll add a few drops to my beauty blender or brush before blending and applying my liquid foundation. I’ve found that using the elixir instead of water to wet my beauty sponge or brush helps me get more coverage out of my products. Also, I’ll often apply three drops of the elixir to my lips and massage them in as a lip treatment before applying lipstick. This helps reduce the dryness that is often associated with wearing matte lipsticks. I use this product sparingly as a little goes a long way. One bottle of the elixir lasts me about one month. Unfortunately, this product is currently only available online. The company does ship internationally to both Canada and the US. The shipping costs are a bit stiff at around $12 CAD, so I would recommend buddying up and ordering with friends to reduce shipping costs.
The thing I love about Tartiest Lip Paint by Tarte is how hydrating it is. Tartiest lip paint’s mousse-like liquid consistency provides moisturizing protection all day. This creamy consistency is one of the Tartiest’s signature features, providing high-coverage colour with a non-drying finish. This is a welcome rarity in the world of matte lipsticks and I am really here for it! I own two shades – Choker and Brownie, with Choker being my favorite. I have spent a better part of my adult life looking for the perfect nude lipstick. Often, mainstream nudes have peachy undertones that cause the nudes to end up looking very washed out on darker skin tones. Choker works perfectly for my medium/fair skin, providing a warm, everyday brown nude that is perfect for a woman of colour. Brownie is a dark chocolate brown that, on my skin tone, is darker and more suited for a night out. The great thing about this line is that there are five different shades of brown-based nudes, which means that every skin tone can find their perfect nude. In terms of lasting power, one coat of this lipstick lasts hours thanks to the ultra-pigmented nature of this lipstick. For days when I want to look put together, I usually line my lips with MAC lip liner in Whirl. For those days when I hit snooze one too many times, I skip the liner altogether and the lip paint will hold its own. Each tube retails for approximately $25 CAD. Compared to other matte lipsticks, this is on the lower-end price wise. In all honesty, I would cough up far more money for a nude as perfect as Choker. Finding a nude that works on a woman of color’s skin tone is like finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, which, in turn, makes it priceless!
I use Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Grow Conditioner by Shea Moisture once a week on Saturday, or as I like to call it, my wash day. I call it a wash day because I dedicate a full day each week to shampooing and conditioning my hair to prep it for the week. I have natural hair that has never been relaxed, so finding a non-harsh conditioner is a difficult thing. I was turned onto the Shea Moisture line last year and ever since committing fully, my hair has been doing amazing. My hair is softer and shinier and my little curls are so much more defined. Best of all, my hair is growing better than it ever has. I am getting closer and closer to going fully natural and unleashing my curls to the world! I use this product just like any other conditioner – it is applied to wet hair, gently massaged from root to tips and rinsed thoroughly. During the winter months, when the air in Calgary reaches its driest point, I like to keep the conditioner in for about five minutes before rinsing thoroughly in order to absorb as much of that natural black castor oil as possible. I love that this conditioner is sulfate free. Black hair requires special care and finding a readily available product like this one that is all natural, free of sulfates, and pumped full of essential fatty acids is a serious convenience. This conditioner is made specifically for natural, over processed, colour treated or heat styled hair. In simpler terms, this conditioner should be used if you have damaged hair that needs some extra love! This product, along with others from the Shea Moisture line, can be purchased both online at and at your local hair and beauty supply store.”
– As told to the GRR